I am committed to securing continuing investment in education and training in order to deliver on the actions set out in the Action Plan for Education ad to meet our ambition of making the Irish education and training service the best in Europe by 2026.
During my time as Minister, the Government has allocated over €1 billion additional funding to education and training over the past two Budgets. The gross 2018 budget allocation for the Department of Education and Skills is €10. 085 billion, the largest in the Department’s history.
Budget 2018 alone provided for over 2,300 additional teaching and Special Needs Assistant posts in schools by the end of 2018. It allowed for significant additional investment of over €64 million to be made in higher and further education and training from the National Training Fund and the Exchequer. It also provided funding for a range of policy areas, including a new STEM policy and curricular reform including in the areas of Agricultural Science, Applied Maths, Computer Science and Science.
The capital allocation for my Department for 2018 will be €745 million, which is an increase of over €50m on the 2017 capital allocation. This will facilitate next year the continued delivery of an ambitious school building programme, to ensure that sufficient places are available for our school going population, and the continued roll-out of the investment programme to upgrade ICT infrastructure in all schools. Additional capital funding of €663m for the period 2018-2021, allocated under the Mid-Term Review of the Capital Plan, will further boost investment in our schools infrastructure, facilitate new programmes of higher education investment - orienting the sector to cater for demographic growth and to meet key skills needs – and ensure the necessary capital investment to support apprenticeship growth targets.
In addition, last October, together with Minister Mitchell O’Connor, I announced €200m in investment in new buildings for institutes for technology, with a strong focus on STEM, including ICT, engineering and life sciences as part of the latest Public Private Partnership Programme.